All posts tagged: DEMO Project

This is an image of moderators and panelists talking.

Beyond Alternatives, Toward Refusal

Beyond Alternatives, a two-day symposium organized by Cory Imig and Dulcee Boehm, fostered a dedicated site to share and reflect upon their experiences as artist-organizers working outside of metropolitan centers. The dozens of artists, writers, educators, and curators living in, thinking about, and actively building communities and social networks who came together reflected the need for this event. The symposium converged and slipped around three main themes: sustainability and transparency when directing an artist-led project, social practice and community engagement, and institutional critique. Paddy Johnson, the founding editor of Art F City, a digital platform for critical conversations surrounding contemporary art, a writer and independent art blogger, opened the symposium with a keynote address appropriately titled “Artist-Led Projects.” Johnson opened with a summary of her and collaborator Michael Anthony Farley’s iterative project “We’re SO not getting the security deposit back,” a guide to now defunct artist-run spaces documented in NYC, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. Each guide features commissioned essays, which emphasized the unique history and conditions of each city. Inherent to this project is a …

Stealing Hearts and Making a Mess: Dominus by Maria Lux at DEMO

When I think of raccoons I think of Milk Duds. At a cabin where I was staying in the woods one summer, I inadvertently left a box of Milk Duds outside and later that night was met by a sticky raccoon at my door. I remember giggling as it ran down the stairs with its caramel and chocolate covered paws- sticky tracks that stayed visible for a couple of weeks. This is to say, somehow I find raccoons a bit charming. Maria Lux’s exhibition Dominus at DEMO Project in Springfield this August (2017) brought both this charm and mischief into the gallery. In the exhibition, Lux pairs humor with earnest text about the history of trying to domesticate raccoons as pets. Three hand-made raccoons sit atop Roomba vacuums, all named properly after pet raccoons, including Rebecca the pet of President Calvin Coolidge. The furry robots scoot around the gallery bumping into walls – not actually cleaning  pushing around empty pastel colored bottles and occasionally, each other. Surrounding the raccoons on the walls are suggestions of Memphis …

Blue at the Edges at DEMO Project

In titling her recent showing at DEMO Project Blue at the Edges, Melissa Pokorny draws from the words of author and essayist Rebecca Solnit. In her autobiographical collection, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Solnit writes, “For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go.” Solnit speaks of vastness as something that lies ahead and out of reach, like the promise of a tomorrow that never arrives. Even so, any wistful admiration directed towards horizons or mountain ranges tends to trigger an echo from yesterday. Despite Solnit’s description of an unattainable horizon — a place “you can never go” — her experience is partly one of physical sensation, of a distance that …

Nobody’s Home at DEMO Project

Nestled in a residential neighborhood in Springfield, IL is a modest white bungalow whose only occupants are visitors to the monthly exhibitions held there. The current display, a collaborative effort, fittingly titled Nobody’s Home, is the work of four St. Louis based artists: Lyndon Barrois Jr., Addoley Dzegede, Cole Lu, and Catalina Ouyang. All that separates the artists’ home city and the DEMO Project venue is 100 miles and a single state line, but they bring with them a collective inspiration with roots far beyond the Midwestern region. Accompanying their work is an excerpt taken from Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson’s children’s book The Exploits of Moominpappa (published in 1950): Images, both literal and figurative, are borrowed from the storybook page and used to transform the venue. As Jansson’s characters tumble into the foggy garden, fog spills through the open doorway of DEMO Project. Adding to the sensation of exterior space is the smell of cedar wood oil that fills the room as densely as the mist. Wading through the thick air of what …

Crossing Grounds: Between Private and Public Space

On a calm residential street in Springfield, Illinois, stands a modest, white bungalow. Visible from the sidewalk, two wooden boards, nailed to each of the home’s two front porch pillars with “D-E-M-O” in vertical black print, hint at what’s inside. DEMO Project, a home converted into a gallery, is scheduled for demolition in 2018. The gallery showcases contemporary artists in a novel setting that exists at the intersection of an intimate domestic space and a white-wall gallery. Early this February, I traveled to Springfield for DEMO’s exhibitions of Emily Ward Bivens and Frances Lightbound, a show featuring two artists who reexamine our relationships with public and private space. Entering through the front door, visitors encounter the work of Emily Ward Bivens. Contextual Discrepancy is located in the larger exhibition space of DEMO Project – an open, white room containing details that remind us of the space’s previous life as a home. Bivens’ work is arranged around and within the preexisting structures. On the right side of the room, a set of three feather hats inhabit …